Crapwagon Outtake: 1991 Oldsmobile 442

Chris Tonn
by Chris Tonn
crapwagon outtake 1991 oldsmobile 442

I love road racing. I grew up about an hour away from the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course and spent many summer weekends wandering the grounds while soaking in the sounds and smells unique to the track. I’m pretty sure my first race was the Lumbermens Six Hours IMSA race in 1983, won by my local hero Bobby Rahal. I was four.

While I certainly enjoyed watching the CART and IMSA races, I always looked forward to the support races leading up to the main events. The best battles of the weekend were often dealt by the showroom stock classes, with small coupes and sedans bashing fenders and doors to get an edge in the corner.

Perhaps even as a kid I knew that I’d never be able to afford to race the big bore stuff, and adjusted my expectations downward. That must be why I adore homologation specials.

Those cars tweaked by the factory to perform just a bit better than a standard car. Carroll Shelby was a master at this, but most of the OEMs did it over the years. Dodge/Plymouth had the Neon ACR. Mazda had the Miata R. Chevrolet offered the 1LE package on the Camaro. Even Oldsmobile got in the game, with this 1991 Oldsmobile 442.

A high-revving, twin-cam four cylinder producing 190 horsepower in 1991? Most would assume such numbers would come from Honda, but the Quad 4 — despite its many faults — could produce serious horsepower for its time. Only a couple hundred of these W41 package cars were built on the Cutlass Calais N-Body, but the drivetrain and W41 moniker carried over to the new Achieva.

This one, which I found on the Obscure Cars For Sale Facebook group, is seriously overpriced. I’d have reservations paying more than $1,000 for this, so $3,500 is frankly insane. These aren’t going to cross the auction block in 20 years for six figures. They are cheap commuter cars, with a special drivetrain, and $5,000 would net a concours example — if it could be found.

Chris Tonn is a broke classic car enthusiast that writes about old cars, since he can’t afford to buy them. Commiserate with him on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.

Join the conversation
2 of 75 comments
  • 06V66speed 06V66speed on Feb 03, 2016

    This 442 Calais W41, and the Achieva SCX W41, are on my bucket list. Mind you, probably somewhere not too far from the top. (Don't judge.) But either of the two must have that "elusive" (haha) Getrag 5MT. There's just *something* about a late 80's/early 90's Olds with a manual transmission.

  • Old5.0 Old5.0 on Feb 04, 2016

    Ugh,bad memories. Back in high school, a friend's mom had a fairly new red W41 identical to this one. She was on her way to work one winter morning and lost control on a patch of ice, hitting a semi head-on. Another buddy and I were on our way to school and happened across the wreck just as the highway patrol were arriving. She was a very nice lady, very good to all of her son's dumb friends. Horrible, horrible day.

  • Tassos Before you rush to buy this heap of rusty metal, maybe you should wait a day or two.I hear Tim will have an Model T next time.
  • Redapple2 I d just buy one already sorted. Too many high level skills (wiring, paint, body panel fitment et. al.) that i dont have. And I dont fancy working 100 s of hours for $3 /hour.
  • 28-Cars-Later I'm actually surprised at this and not sure what to make of it. In recent memory Senator Biden has completely ignored an ecological disaster in Ohio, and then ignored a tragic fire in Hawaii until his handlers were goaded in sending him and his visit turned into it's own disaster, but we skipped nap time for this sh!t show? Seriously? We really are through the looking glass now, "votes" no longer matter (Hillary almost won being the worst presidential candidate since 1984 before he claimed the crown) and outside of Corvette nostalgia Joe doesn't care let alone know what day it happens to be. Could they really be afraid of Trump, who AFAIK has planned no appearance or run his mouth on this issue? Just doesn't make sense, granted this is Clown World so maybe its my fault for trying to find sense in a senseless act.
  • Tassos If you only changed your series to the CORRECT "Possibly Collectible, NOT Daily Driver, NOT Used car of the day", it would sound much more accurate AND TRUTHFUL.Now who would collect THIS heap of trash for whatever misguided reason, nostalgia for a much worse automotive era or whatever, is another question.
  • ToolGuy Price dropped $500 overnight. (Wait 10 more days and you might get it for free?)